Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas

Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas

Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas

Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas

Synopsis

This is a short history of the age of exploration and the conquest of the Americas told through the experience of Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican friar who fervently defended the American Indians, and the single most important figure of the period after Columbus.
  • Explores the period known as the Encounter, which was characterized by intensive conflict between Europeans and the people of the Americas following Columbus's voyages
  • Argues that Las Casas, 'protector of Indians,' was primarily motivated by Scripture in his crusade for justice and equality for American Indians
  • Draws on the 14 volume Complete Works of Las Casas as a window into his mind and actions
  • Encourages students to understand history through the viewpoint of individuals living it

Excerpt

The age of the exploration and conquest of the Americas has undergone some remarkable changes in interpretation in the past half century. This short book will serve as an introduction to this seminal period in world history encompassed by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

You will read about traditional and modern interpretations of what happened, and how historians and other students of the past such as archaeologists, ethnographers, and demographers have defined and studied the changes in world history prompted by this great encounter between two worlds. As the distinguished historian John Parry once observed, “America was not discovered by the Europeans; it was truly a meeting of two cultures who had not known each other previously.”

Most readers are familiar with some of the bare facts of the age of the conquest: the discoveries made by Christopher Columbus; the beginning of the European settlements on the large islands of the Caribbean, and then the continuing conquest of lands and Amerindian peoples across the continents of North America and South America and including the connecting isthmus of Central America. But as researchers have probed more deeply into the documentation and have embraced new priorities and brought new perspectives into the equation of interpreting the past, it seems that the history of the Conquest has been loosened from its foundations and radiates with controversy and differing points of view.

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